Gen1 and gen2 Celicas have become genuine rarities. And the gen3 is quickly heading that way. And that’s despite being as solid and tough and reliable as a sporty coupe ever was. Their drive trains had been used in a gazillion Toyotas of all kinds, including trucks. They were RWD, with a solid rear axle. Now wonder this one looks still so fresh.
I have no idea what the red tape is for on the headlights.
Which of course are hidden, Which flipped back to keep a straight edge, in true 1980’s style. Under its hood beats the immortal 22R 2.4 L four, belting out a mighty 105 hp, thanks to fuel injection.
I’ve grudgingly come to appreciate these, especially in the liftback fastback version, but not nearly to the degree as their predecessor, which was a true stylistic gem, especially so in the coupe version. It’s too blocky, and too formal. And too two-door sedanish.
But it’s certainly a refreshing contrast to most of the
cars vehicles on the street these days, although this happens to be next to another semi-vintage car. You’d think I shot this in 1995, not 2020.
If that’s an ’83 then the headlights weren’t hidden, they just tilt back, not until ’84 did they tilt the other way.
While I like this generation of Celica probably more than any other, I generally vastly prefer the wide body ones with the flared fenders, however this one looks great to me despite being a notchback due to the wheels, those wide wheels from the GT-S model (and Supra) are the ones that work so well with the rest of the car’s styling.
We owned a prior generation one that I never warmed to but now am starting to appreciate but this is the one that was available when I got licensed and thus the one I identify with most.
Yes, a poor attempt at hiding. Like the kid who always gets found first at hide and go seek. he finally wised up for 1984. 🙂
Hehe! True, but I always thought the later effort looked a bit dishonest after the oddly-likeable eccentricity of the first, ie: “All blacked over now, you’ll never guess what THIS panel does!” But we can, you know, because we saw the earlier one – and now it looks like it’s wearing rather cheap dark sunglasses.
Toyota chose to market the notchback as the downmarket version, the Supra which was still very much a Celica derivative with a stretch nose and a six only came as a fastback and the lack of body side moldings with no sign of them ever having been present on this car makes me think it’s the entry-level ST which came only as a notchback.
Interestingly there was never a Brougham-type trim level for the notch although I remember seeing them with dealer add-ons that indicated there was a market for one.
The rear badge does read “ST”, while enlarging it I realized I don’t think I ever noticed that the backup lights are separate and below the main tail lights. That was changed for 1984 as well and the hatchback always had them integrated, never separate. It seems like a very strange thing to have been designed as separate, a complete waste of money and not conducive to the styling or anything else.
The wheels are what really works for me on this car. Probably one of Toyota’s best designs.
I also much prefer the previos generation Celica…A true break through for Japanese design as it didn’t look like a mini version of a design from another manufacturer. Interestingly it was designed by CALTY, Toyota’s new design studio in California. I read that the second generation was not as well received in Japan as it was in North America. To austere. I remember reading an R&T review of the third generation styling stating that its fussy detailing was more appropriate for Japan that due its density people don’t view cars from afar, they view them up close and like seeing vents, protruding side markers, etc. as opposed to the US where we view cars more as a whole and appreciated the clean flanks of gen 2
That’s how it went down. A good example of how different cultural perspectives affect design (and so much else).
I owned a 77 80 and 81 celicas
And 79 80 82 83 87 Supras, what I would give to have those now.
I also like the second generation Celica better, especially the coupe, though I prefer the liftback version of these to the coupe in both cases. The feàtured car in the picture above is in incredible condition. I haven’t seen one of these Celicas in such good shape in decades!
The roof line kind of resembles the 1978-87 Buick Regal coupe. Although Toyota seemed to have found a way to make the formal roof line look less stodgy than the Buick.
I prefer this Celica to the melted soap bars that followed.
My sister had a 2nd generation coupe, it replaced a late 70s Camaro that was quite used up though only 3 years old. Her’s had an automatic transmission and drove okay, but really wasn’t as sporty feeling as the looks would lead you to believe it would be. Just typical reliable Toyota. But I really liked the styling…this generation? Not so much.
Those unpainted black bumper covers (as used in the rear of this car) didn’t age so well as the years went by, becoming dull and fuzzy.
Unspied in the wild for eons now, this ’80’s angletangle is quite the find.
What’s more, for me it’s done that thing where a once-awkward-then-dated design has hidden for long enough that time has redeemed it, though the hatch was and remains better.
It’s funny they disappeared, because I doubt death was the cause. They were so durable that even murdering one couldn’t cause that.
In Oz, the base engine was the 2 litre. Only the posher one got the unbalanced washing-machine that was the 2.4 injection, and for them, they had IRS and not the solid axle. Apparently didn’t make much difference to the indifferent handling anyway.
Paul, I’m not sure if you’re joking or being serious about the “the immortal 22R 2.4 L four, belting out a mighty 105 hp, thanks fuel injection”. It seems lame by today’s standards, but the 22R-E in the 1983 Celica was pretty darned good for the day. Some people kiddingly refer to the Toyota 22R and 22RE as “tractor engines”, but they were sure a lot better and more powerful than what the domestic manufacturers were putting out during the same time frame.
Consider that the standard Mustang engine was a 2.3 liter 4 cylinder with 88 hp, and the standard Camaro came equipped with 90 hp 2.5 liter TECH-IV. Both the 1983 Mustang and the Camaro were considerably heavier than a Celica, too.
Stepping up to the optional V6 engines, the 1983 Mustang offered the 3.8 liter V6 rated at 112 hp, while the Camaro offered the 2.8 liter V6 rated at 102 hp. Suddenly, the Celica’s 105 hp standard 4 cylinder starts to look very competitive, especially when the drivability of a fuel-injected engine is taken into consideration.
My 1983 Celica GT coupe (which looked almost identical to the car pictured in the article) was purchased new, kept by me as a daily driver for 9 years, and then passed on to a family member who used it for 5 more years. When he finally sold it at 199,500 miles, it still looked and ran well, and the 22R-E still met factory compression specs.
I’m not sure if you’re joking or being serious about the “the immortal 22R 2.4 L four, belting out a mighty 105 hp, thanks fuel injection”
Somewhere in between? 🙂
105 hp wasn’t bad, but then the Prelude was a good two seconds faster to 60. And that was the closest real competition.
The 2.4 was a good and rugged real-world engine, but it certainly had zero genuine sporty aspirations.
Great cars. I had a Brown 82 GT lift back with the flares and wheels and Supra seats, this became the GTS model for the following years. The Japanese market got the Celica Twincam Turbo which was Group B Homologation version.
These notchback Celicas with the “baby G-body” roof will always be my favorite.
I believe the tape X on the headlights originates from rallying and motorcycle racing. Drivers would tape the headlights so that when they inevitably broke from a thrown rock, the glass shards wouldn’t go flying and hit other racers or their tires. But like many other functional mods, it later became just an affectation.
A nice find.
Once upon a time, cars were designed to look efficient, purposeful and functional. This look was in itself, stylish. The previous decade gave us baroque ugliness, so oversize, overwrought auto styles popular during the 1970 era, were far out of fashion. In their place, we see sharp lines, sharp edges and strong geometric shapes. This Celica is striking in its refusal to bend a curve beyond the wheel cut outs.
It was a nice look. Toyota was a bit severe, as was Nissan and Subaru. Mazda mimicked this design, but remembered to softly round the corners, while Fiat looked like they were metal cardboard boxes with little wheels under them.
It was as though auto stylists were making amends for forcing us to see opera lights, opera windows, louvered windows, padded vinyl trunk humps, coach lights, yard-high jukebox stand up grilles, massive chromed park bench bumpers, crushed velour tufted door trim, porn-staches, leisure suits, and stacked men’s heels.
It’s probably a generational thing. The 1950s also gave us oversize, overwrought, baroque ugliness style, epitomized by the 1957 Ambassador and 1959 Lincoln. These things seem go in cycles. Are we at the top of another cycle now?
Looks like it came from the Homer Simpson school of design.
I can’t remember if it was Car & Driver or Motor Trend but one of them tested the hatchback and commented the coupe’s rear tail lights look like a bad ethnic joke.
I had 2 different co-workers who bought the notchback version of this car, one new, and the other used (but very low mileage)…though I was and still am more of a fan of the hatch. The guy who bought it used got a really good deal on it, after his 1982 Honda Accord Coupe was totalled (in an accident where he hit a guy on the side of the road, where he shouldn’t have been parked, stealing gravel of all things). This was in 1989. H even returned some struts that he bought for the Honda but never got around to installling. The Celica had about 27000 miles as a 7 year old car…I doubt it but have to ask him if he still owns it, as he no longer lives in the same state as I..